The space technology industry is flourishing and literally reaching new heights each year. The global space tech market was valued at around $380 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $10T by the end of 2030 .
When we say space technology, it includes a plethora of activities including research, exploration, and utilization of space. The space tech industry took off when a host of private space technology companies entered the fray. Besides, the successful development of reusable rockets has opened the doors for hundreds of space tech startups. We can say that a new era of commercial use of space and space exploration has begun.
As new companies and technologies enter the fray, there have been significant developments in the space technology sphere. Ever since Elon Musk’s space tech company SpaceX developed reusable rockets successfully, new opportunities have sprung up in this area.
One of the notable breakthroughs that have come from SpaceX’s endeavors is that the company has also managed to show the world how space missions can be carried out without having to break the bank for it.
SpaceX’s success has given a push to a host of private companies to enter this budding space tech market. In addition, although space-faring seems like a distant dream at the moment, it will soon turn into reality.
Let’s take a look at some of the most innovative and exciting tech startups around the world.
Space tech startups in 2022
SpaceX is by far the most valuable and popular space tech startup in the world. The reason? Elon Musk, the world’s richest owns this amazing company that is doing amazing things. In addition, SpaceX made a name for itself after it became the first private company to give a ride to NASA’s astronauts to the International Space Station. Besides, it also was the first crew to take off from U.S. soil in almost a decade.
After the initial few launches, the company quickly hit the 100-launch milestone after launching the Falcon 9 cargo rockets which were delivered to the Starlink constellation.
What’s even more interesting is that they have also added around 1,000 satellites to its Starlink constellation, out of which the Falcon 9 delivered the last 60 satellites in the seventh trip.
GHGSat is a Canadian startup that uses the satellites they develop to calculate greenhouse gas in outer space. In September 2021, the company launched its second satellite, which was equipped with sensors that detect methane emissions that are 100 times smaller than any other technology on the planet.
3. Orbital Insight
Orbital Insight is a geospatial analytics company that meshes cell phone geolocation with images that are obtained from balloons, drones, and satellites to offer businesses a bird’s eye view of a host of human activity. This concept can be used to do some amazing things.
In 2020, the company ramped up its partnership with Unilever to monitor the firm’s sustainable palm oil supply chain in South East Asia. It did so by leveraging cellphone data from different delivery trucks to determine how raw materials are transported from a farm to a refinery. This ensures that the suppliers are not adding to the deforestation of the virgin rainforest.
LeoLabs was founded by a former NASA astronaut. This space tech startup utilizes proprietary radars to track objects in Lower Earth Orbit. The lower earth orbit is the area that is between 60 to 1,200 miles above Earth. In this space, nearly 2,000 satellites are operational.
The company rolled out a Collision Avoidance Service in 2020, a service that notifies customers when their satellites are in the danger zone and could crash. In 2021, LeoLabs onboarded two radars that enabled them to track over 250,000 pieces of debris.
5. Slingshot Aerospace
Slingshot Aerospace’s expertise lies in “situational intelligence”, allowing companies in the defense and aerospace industry to rapidly analyze heaps of data gathered by radars and other types of observation technology that are part of airplanes, satellites, and drones.
At the moment, Slingshot works with Northrop Grumman, Boeing, the U.S. Air Force, and NASA. In October 2021, the U.S. Space Force signed a contract with the company to develop VR space simulators for training purposes.
The simulator was created in partnership with VFX studio Third Floor which has previously worked on different projects including The Martian, The Mandalorian, and Gravity.
6. Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab launched its first test flight in 2017. Since then, the company has launched around 96 small satellites into the space aboard the Electron rockets developed by the company.
Rocket Lab started providing a commercial service that creates, designs, launches, and also operates satellites in a bundled service.
Planet has launched more than 130 mini-satellites in orbit. The company provides customers with high-res images of any location on the planet. It rolled out two news services called Automated Change Detection and Rapid Revisit.
Planet’s bookings saw a two-fold growth, as most customers made remote check-ins of different locations which they would have visited if not for the pandemic.
Astroscale is a Japanese space tech startup that works to get rid of space debris from orbit. The company was approached to work on a UK Space Agency-funded project, with notable partners including Amazon Web Services and Fujitsu. The project primarily focused on improving trajectory planning for multi-object removal emissions.
Space exploration and travel will continue to gain momentum in the coming years due to the collective efforts of such space tech startups. Companies from different corners of the world are surprising us each year with new inventions, technologies, and innovations.
We are expecting to see a lot of developments in the space tech field in the upcoming decade. Will humans set foot on Mars soon? How long will it take for space travel to become mainstream? You can leave your comments and tell us what you think.
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Feature Image Source: rawpixel.com
Image 1 Source: Official SpaceX Photos used under the license Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Image 2 Source: Slingshot Aerospace
 (2021) “SpaceTech Industry in Figures” SpaceTech Analytics [online] Available from: https://www.spacetech.global/spacetech-industry-in-figures [accessed April 2022]